Silver Star Downgrade and Diner Discussion

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Re: Silver Star Downgrade and Diner Discussion

Postby Matt Johnson » Thu Dec 28, 2017 1:30 pm

gokeefe wrote:
Matt Johnson wrote:Today's Miami bound Silver Meteor is 13 cars in length, with 6 coaches and 4 sleepers in the consist. That's gotta be keeping the diner pretty busy.


Is that a normal consist size for this time of year?


Oddly, coaches seem to be varying between 4, 5, and 6 but it's had 4 sleepers consistently for the last week or two based on my observations.
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Re: Silver Star Downgrade and Diner Discussion

Postby east point » Thu Dec 28, 2017 1:48 pm

Matt Johnson wrote:[

Oddly, coaches seem to be varying between 4, 5, and 6 but it's had 4 sleepers consistently for the last week or two based on my observations.


That makes one wonder if 4 sleepers is all Amtrak can cobble together for the SM but can get more coaches ?
EDIT FYI -- for next 3 days both silver's sleepers sold out NYP - MIA just few coach seats available.
Last edited by east point on Thu Dec 28, 2017 1:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Silver Star Downgrade and Diner Discussion

Postby gokeefe » Thu Dec 28, 2017 1:51 pm

The Meteor may be running long but the Star is sold out in First Class (sleeper) for the next seven days straight southbound. After that the Star is sold out of Roomettes for an additional three days straight. So right now whatever the Star is carrying for Roomettes is SRO for the next 10 days straight. It will be very interesting to see how things go in the future when they have more sleeper cars available to add capacity. They could clearly do so right now on both trains and probably still sell out over the next few days.
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Re: Silver Star Downgrade and Diner Discussion

Postby David Benton » Thu Dec 28, 2017 5:23 pm

JimBoylan wrote:How much food, expressed in meals, can a Viewliner Diner store?

I think its time to look at bringing on pre prepared meals enroute. And perhaps a second lsa , providing at seat orderig/ delivery on the day sections. Amtrak is leaving revenue on the table, (or in coach passengers coolers). .
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Re: Silver Star Downgrade and Diner Discussion

Postby Greg Moore » Thu Dec 28, 2017 8:39 pm

Honestly, despite some of the other issues, I still think some resurrection of the Silver Palm may be in order. A 3rd overnight train, running at a different set of hours, has a chance of picking up even more traffic.
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Re: Silver Star Downgrade and Diner Discussion

Postby gokeefe » Thu Dec 28, 2017 9:55 pm

That could very well be. But at least with existing trains they can add cars "at will" without having to request permission from the host railroad. Once they have the new rolling stock they will be able to do something that hasn't happened since the '70s, serve the winter Florida travel market demand to the most profitable extent. I think it's going to be eye opening for everyone.
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Re: Silver Star Downgrade and Diner Discussion

Postby Greg Moore » Fri Dec 29, 2017 9:50 am

gokeefe wrote:That could very well be. But at least with existing trains they can add cars "at will" without having to request permission from the host railroad. Once they have the new rolling stock they will be able to do something that hasn't happened since the '70s, serve the winter Florida travel market demand to the most profitable extent. I think it's going to be eye opening for everyone.


Oh agreed. Right now far easier to add them to existing trains.

But eventually they'll run into issues with length and other stuff. A "GOOD" problem to have ultimately.
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Re: Silver Star Downgrade and Diner Discussion

Postby jp1822 » Fri Dec 29, 2017 1:30 pm

Greg Moore wrote:
gokeefe wrote:That could very well be. But at least with existing trains they can add cars "at will" without having to request permission from the host railroad. Once they have the new rolling stock they will be able to do something that hasn't happened since the '70s, serve the winter Florida travel market demand to the most profitable extent. I think it's going to be eye opening for everyone.


Oh agreed. Right now far easier to add them to existing trains.

But eventually they'll run into issues with length and other stuff. A "GOOD" problem to have ultimately.


The three a day to/from Miami and New York City was a good balance and spread - morning Silver train, mid-day Silver train, evening Silver train - departing and arriving.
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Re: Silver Star Downgrade and Diner Discussion

Postby SouthernRailway » Fri Dec 29, 2017 6:15 pm

Random question:

Since the Silver Star changes (lower prices, but without meals included) seem to have boosted sleeping car ridership, and since Iowa Pacific, despite its failure, showed that there is a small number of people willing to pay a premium for a "deluxe" sleeping car trip:

Why doesn't Amtrak significantly expand its sleeping car offerings within the same train?

For example, the Crescent has 2 sleepers, with meals included. Those sleepers often sell out.

Why not have:

2 sleepers, dining car meals included (unchanged from now). ("Regular service")

and

1 sleeper, excluding meals and at a lower ticket price. ("Discount service")

and

1 sleeper, with a premium sleeping car service at a higher price, and perhaps with a portion of the car dedicated to lounge/dining space just for that car? Maybe Amtrak could go all-out and even include car service to pick up passengers and luggage from their homes, like some airlines do for business/first class passengers on international flights. ("Premium service")

I see that Amtrak makes up to around 53% of its revenues on long-distance trains from sleeping car service. Adding these 2 cars could increase those revenues significantly.
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Re: Silver Star Downgrade and Diner Discussion

Postby mtuandrew » Fri Dec 29, 2017 7:41 pm

It’d be nice to have a Pacific Parlour equivalent on each train with premium service - maybe a 5BR sleeper-lounge? - and it also makes sense to offer a “no meal service” option for a discount. Maybe 60 Mass will be able to experiment when they finally get their sleepers.
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Re: Silver Star Downgrade and Diner Discussion

Postby gokeefe » Fri Dec 29, 2017 8:23 pm

The problem with low density accommodations is that the market is simply too narrow for them. Private car rates also place a ceiling on how high Amtrak can go. Why pay $3,000 a night for a bedroom when you could potentially have an entire car?

Amtrak's fundamental answer to all of this is volume. Totally selling out at peak damages their ability to grow the market year over year. They should be able to run longer trains in the winter to Florida and make a boatload of money doing it. If it worked for SCL until the very end I see no reason why it can't work now.
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Re: Silver Star Downgrade and Diner Discussion

Postby SouthernRailway » Fri Dec 29, 2017 8:58 pm

gokeefe wrote:The problem with low density accommodations is that the market is simply too narrow for them. Private car rates also place a ceiling on how high Amtrak can go. Why pay $3,000 a night for a bedroom when you could potentially have an entire car?

Amtrak's fundamental answer to all of this is volume. Totally selling out at peak damages their ability to grow the market year over year. They should be able to run longer trains in the winter to Florida and make a boatload of money doing it. If it worked for SCL until the very end I see no reason why it can't work now.


Not sure if I follow the first paragraph. Iowa Pacific seemed (based on articles I read, which is hardly scientific) to have at least 15-20 people per trip on its Pullman trips on the City of New Orleans at high prices. Iowa Pacific seemed to have multiple cars per train, which of course is a recipe for failure, but if Amtrak could have 1 car per train dedicated to a "premium" service, charging those 15-20 people, in total, what a regular sleeping car would cost, that seems like a winner. Via offers this on the Canadian, or so I've read.

For the second paragraph: yes, railroads make money on volume. Isn't adding another car for premium-class service adding volume? If the Silver Meteor can have 4 sleepers on now around Christmas, I'd think that it could add at least one or two more with added "premium" and "discount" services.
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Re: Silver Star Downgrade and Diner Discussion

Postby gokeefe » Fri Dec 29, 2017 11:44 pm

IP was not running daily service. In fact there were many off months where they didn't run at all. Simply not enough demand.

The market is "narrow" because the price point was crowded below by Amtrak's fares and above by the fairly competitive private car market. This segment is further narrowed by the lack of steady demand for "premium" accommodations.

The other problem with cost becomes the maintenance of non-standard equipment (or trim) which increases the break even point.

I can post further about the math but suffice it to say that if you start working with passenger loads of 10 vs. 20 +/- (per car) you may find that you will rapidly get squeezed on margins.
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Re: Silver Star Downgrade and Diner Discussion

Postby east point » Sat Dec 30, 2017 6:25 am

We have to wonder if Star's bump in sleeper traffic comes from Meteor not having any available sleeper space ? Full trains at high prices seems to indicate not meeting demand ? The cold weather across the northern portions will certainly increase the snow birds ?
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Re: Silver Star Downgrade and Diner Discussion

Postby palmland » Sat Dec 30, 2017 10:01 am

I believe Amtrak could improve ridership and perhaps shift more of the traffic to the Star if the southbound schedule was adjusted. The departures of the Star and Meteor are about 4 hours apart from NYP but, because of the Star’s circuitous routing, arrival in MIA is about 40 min apart. Perhaps the Star should go on the A line route with a schedule similar to the Palmetto as far as Savannah and a morning arrival in Tampa. The Palmetto schedule could then have a late evening departure from NYP with a full daylight schedule into the Carolinas on the current Star route and terminate at Savannah. Yes, the Palmetto would then require one of the new Viewliner sleepers, should they ever be delivered.
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